I Am The Medium, You Are The Message

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Hillary Clinton’s online guru, Peter Daou, writes in HuffPo about the ways in which online commenters, which he calls the “commentariat,” are transforming the national dialog. An excerpt:

Virtually every online venue that played a role in the ’08 race provided a platform for public dialogue. Blogs, boards, news sites, YouTube, Twitter, and social networks large and small were inundated with millions of individual comments, the aggregate effect of which was to determine how voters viewed the candidates and the race. The democratization of opinion-making that began with the rise of the blogosphere reached a new level of maturity, the global discourse a new level of complexity. . . .

For the first time, we are thinking aloud unfettered and unfiltered by mass media gatekeepers. Events, information, words and deeds that a decade ago were discussed and contextualized statically in print or through the controlled funnel of television and radio, are now subjected to instantaneous interpretation and free-association by millions of citizens unencumbered by the media’s constraints, aided by the optional – and liberating – cloak of anonymity. . . .

For the press and punditry, an important reversal: their agenda-setting role is eroded and they are now compelled to partner with the online commentariat for validation and legitimation. For the political establishment, the standard methodology – where strategists and pollsters conjure and test messages to be disseminated by media teams and press shops through traditional channels – is inadequate. Politicians and public officials must now contend with higher levels of risk and uncertainty that confound traditional communications strategies. They must posses the awareness and agility to navigate a churning ocean of opinion where every word, every press release, every policy paper, every speech, every document, every surrogate remark is recorded, magnified and repurposed by the online community. Image making and message crafting, enduring political arts once the back-room purview of a select few, are now in the public domain.

I would add my own thoughts to this, but I have to sit down first. The room is spinning. The world is not as I thought it to be. Who am I anyway? Why do I exist?

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